This is one of El Greco’s most famous and enigmatic paintings and it resides here in Glasgow in Pollok House, in Pollok Park.
The portrait was purchased by Sir William Stirling Maxwell in 1853 and nothing is known about its history before the 19th century. It had been exhibited in the Louvre in Paris and its beauty and immediacy had given it a considerable reputation.
The painting depicts a lady with noble bearing in a wrap of sable fur. She has pink cheeks and red lips and is evidently a real woman.
The majority of works by El Greco have elongated figures of women as saints, virgins and martyrs with anguished looks – so this is something very different.
Doménikos Theotokópoulos (1541-1614) was actually born in Greece, on the island of Crete but after studying in Venice under Titian, he settled in Toledo, Spain and became known as El Greco.
He never married but had a mistress, Jeronima, who bore him a cherished son, Jorge.
The sitter was originally thought to be El Greco’s daughter. However, although it is known that he had a son, Jorge, there is no record of his having had a daughter. It was also thought that it may be the second daughter of Philip II of Spain, the Infanta Catalina, but again this is unlikely as royal portraits were very stiff and formal and it is doubtful whether anyone of royal blood would have been painted in such a casual fashion. It is much more likely that it is El Greco’s mistress Jeronima.
Visit Pollok House to see this beautiful painting, exhibited in the Library, or contact us to arrange a private viewing of this and the Spanish Art collection in Pollok House.